My Last First Day of School

UGH- it's time to go back to school?!

UGH- it’s time to go back to school?!

This past Monday was a major milestone in my life: it was my “last first day of school” (I write this in quotations as I don’t know what the future holds- I may go to grad school one day). But in all seriousness, can I get a HALLELUJAH? I’m graduating in December!

I’ve been in and out of college for the last ten years and man, these ten years have been filled with found memories and learning lessons. I already knew that I was extremely bad at math going into university (it took three times to pass Math128) but I didn’t think that I would like write advertising copy and questions for focus groups so much (can I get research job, anyone?). Below is some tidbits of my education during the last decade…

1) Alicia Dixon was one of the first girls I met my freshmen year, living in the dorm. We’d always run into each other early in the morning, as we were the only ones on our floor who took an 8am Monday morning class. I would sleepily walk into the bathroom and she would flag me down with one of her frantic friendly waves and her big, lovely smile. “Ty! Ty!” (as I was called my first year of college). “Good morning! How are you?” We hung out in her room after class, singing to Kelly Clarkson’s latest album and talking about auditioning for American Idol. We were out at WinCo one day when we reflected our first meeting. “You always looked so sad,” Alicia said. “Your head was always down. That’s why I’d always waved to you like I was a crazy person- I was trying to get you to smile.” Since then, I stopped looking down when I walked, holding my head up forever high. Alicia moved south after her second year of school and I haven’t talked to her since but I remember the lesson she taught me and now, I walk with pride in myself.

2) With the vein of meeting Alicia, you can meet your closest friends in the most random places during college. I met my dearest friends in campus clubs, the Mormon church, during breakfast in the dorm cafeteria, the (former) ASUN Bookstore, in film class while crushing on the same guy. It was the openness of heart that brought us together. I think about this openness, of the heart and mind, now during this semester seeing that I’m the oldest student in my Spanish culture class- and how that trait is one of the most important ones I hold and value. So what that everyone is nine years younger than me? I’m excited to make new friends this semester and I’m grateful for the ones who stuck by my side. With an open mind, my arms are stretched wide and ready to embrace whatever new experience comes my way.

3) Never go to class inebriated (I think that is pretty self-explanatory without a crazy story).

4) Above all else, the greatest lesson I learned is not to give up. When I dropped out of school, I was convinced that I was never going to go back- and I was fine with that. I was getting jobs and making a decent wage without a degree- better than some of my peers with ones. When I made the decision to go back to school, I thought about what it would feel like to finish and I’d think about that feeling when class got too difficult or when I didn’t feel like studying. It’s that feeling that kept (and keeps) me going- and maybe just how excited I am to decorate my graduation cap at the end of the semester.

Dear reader; if you are in school, I hope you have a safe and successful semester. For those out of college I hope you look affectionately look back at your years in school and how they shaped your life. When my mom dropped me off at the dorms that Sunday night back in 2004, she told me that these years will be the best of my life. Reflecting on that now, these have been great years- the best years I had discovering myself and my potential- but they are only leading up to even better ones. The best days to all of us.

This is What a Feminist Looks Like

Beyoncé is one. Joseph Gordon Levitt is one. Even my boyfriend is one. I stand proud and admit that I, too, am one. Welcome to the wonderful word of feminists.

Okay, before you stop reading and close your browser, hear me out. Feminism means different things to different people. The whole feminist spectrum ranges from the “man-haters” (a concept I could never understand) to those who simply want equality. I fall under the latter category. I believe that everyone deserves equality- equality in the workplace, in a relationship and in their home. To me, being a feminist doesn’t mean I hate men- good God, I LOVE men! I respect men. I admire men. But women still have a way to go, especially in the workforce.

Today, women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but the average working woman earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes. Equality will be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect. Our world requires both men and women- we need to find that balance between us in order to make things fair and correct. I’m not talking about ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power.’ I would just like to see an equal amount of female CEOs as there are male ones.

With feminism in the home, I hope to see households function in the way my stepmom and my dad raise my youngest sister. They split up the parenting 50-50, with the meal and bedtime, driving to school, taking her to karate, the discipline I grew up always believing that women don’t take care of the child rearing and the cleaning and the cooking- it’s a split effort. I don’t think it’s the man’s job to earn the money- and I think that society is finally seeing that. More men are uprooting their careers and moving for their spouses’ professional ambitions and fathers are wanting paternity time.

In her book “Lean In: (which I recommend to everyone), Sheryl Sandberg writes that being feminist is being the kind of woman you want to be. You can be Facebook’s chief operating officer and be a feminist. You can be a housewife and be a feminist. You can serve your significant other and be a feminist. I like some of the traditional roles in a relationship (mostly, things like cooking. I love making breakfast for my boyfriend in the morning). Feminism is having the options of doing whatever you want and just going for it. I know that I don’t have to make french toast every morning- its not my requirement and I don’t do it to get a gold star from Steve. Cooking is just fun. With that said, I also agree with Gloria Steinem- she feels the same way as I do, that women can and should do what they want. She was just surprised that women want to be housewives. Raising children and taking care of your family is hard yet rewarding work- I look at all my friends who are mothers and I see rich, satisfying lives. But there are times when I think that women can do more. We can hold that dream career and still come home to cook dinner and hang out with our families. We can be a good lawyer or a phenomenal editor and still be a great mom. It’s just all about that balance; its all about that level of equality- equal amounts of our time, our focus and our energy.

There are some other aspects of feminism that I strongly believe in… Yeah, I do believe the religions of the world need to align more with our modern society and offer more roles in the church to women. I think that women need to support each other more- we are taught that this world we live in is this huge arena and we’re all Katniss, fighting against each other, competing until there is nothing left. What would happen if we all took a step back and extended a hand? We not in a beauty way against one another- perhaps we’re a career one but then, that’s why we should mentor and give a sister all the advice we can about professional life.

All in all, women are amazing. Men are amazing. We are all amazing. Feminism shows that we (all the genders in this world) have the ability to do amazing things- (to quote Kid Preseident) “we make the world more awesome.” We just need that equal representation in everyone’s attitude and lifestyle in order to shine. I believe once that happens, the world will truly be a better place.

Why I Love Kanye West

“Because my life is dope and I do dope shit.” -Kanye West

I watched a recent Dave Chapelle interview a few days ago. He was chatting with Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show about the first time he met Kanye West. Dave described their meeting like this: “You could tell that he was going to be a star. I didn’t know him before he booked the show but it was like Muhammad Ali in Olympic Village- you knew he was going to get the gold.”

I get a lot of smack for liking Mr. West. Yeah, I understand that he is an asshole at times but then again, I am, too. Maybe he doesn’t make the best relationship choices but heck, I haven’t either (sorry/not sorry, exs of mine). The thing I like most about Kayne is his attitude. He believes that he can do pretty much anything he sets his mind on (and then, he does it). And think that mindset is refreshing.

What would happen if we all had that attitude and applied it to our daily lives? Kayne is quoting with saying, your attitude makes up your latitude. So, how will the world change if we thought more highly of ourselves and felt like we could do anything (granted, the things we’d do would make the world a more positive place)? How much higher could we lift up one another? What if we can make the planet a peaceful place for everyone to live- someone can just think, I can end all fighting and then, makes it happen? I can end hunger, and then they  do it? What if we all woke up thinking that we were powerful enough to make the world change for the better; if we were able to pull ourselves out of that funk and do something good and moving? What if we all thought we were Kanye clones (without all the narcissistic qualities) and did something incredible?

Kayne (and I) remind you that you’re dope/cool/wicked/amazing and you are here on this planet to have fun adventures/inspire and love others/do dope shit.

What is Your Most Marketable Skill?

Work this past month has been CRAZY, to say the least (I’m so grateful for the next few days off!). With Artown, I do something a little different each day. I answer the phones and emails, sell tickets to our concerts, introduce our donation program in Spanish in front of a crowd of 500 people, create advertising and deal with all the in-house computer issues. I’m our front person who deals with a good chunk of the complaints and am usually the first person people meet when they come to the office. My job isn’t that glamorous at times but I really do love it.

I worked a lot of different jobs in my life- I’ve done everything from selling Hallmark cards to nannying a rambunctious three-year-old; cleaning medical devices to serving over-priced dinners at a trendy hipster restaurant. My resume is filled with different experiences that show how I can handle pretty much anything that comes my way- my work history shows that I can be success at job about any job.  Webucator, a great site where one can learn how code using XML, HTML5, JavaScript and then some, asked me to write about my most marketable skill. What do I think is essential for success?

Success is subjective but there is one thing that I think everyone needs in order to work successfully (and live successfully): flexibility. Life goes in so many directions. You can plan for the worst to happen and the vice-versa occurs. When things fall out of place and they don’t go how they are supposed to, it’s just best to remain calm and explore your other options. At Artown this year, we had random mishaps- a band was stuck in Texas; some presenters didn’t host their planned events; people calling and emailing me with compliant after compliant after compliant. The only thing to do- stay flexible.

With that flexibility, I found that there are two sub-necessities to make this skill a full success: 1) a positive, can-do attitude always helps (especially when trying to calm an angry senior citizen on the phone) and 2) the commitment to just power through. We hate when things change, even when things make the slightest change but hey, we have to get stuff done. Just grin and bear it. Over July, the staff I worked with showed me those things- granted we all had those moments where we didn’t want to go into work and wanted to stay home in bed all day, snuggling with our cats but we picked ourselves up, flexed our attitudes in a positive direction and made each day a success.

What about you, dear reader- what is your most marketable skill? Happy Friday!

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This post is written in part with Webucator. Thank you for reading and supporting 20Something!